- Grape, sweet citrus
- Thick, citrus, honey; floral notes
- Pleasant heat, sweetness lingers
Suggested serving over ice with slice of orange, but I found it very pleasant and drinkable at room temperature, like a sherry.
Melba uses my house as a storage house/testing ground for all sorts of bottles, which I am thankful for, but I also find it amusing, as whatever she leaves here will be consumed. So much for storage. She has a wonderful article on some cocktails we made with Lillet, a bottle of which she brought over one evening. We’ll be posting that article in just a couple of days, but I wanted to review Lillet all by itself first, to introduce it if the reader, like me, had no experience with it.Lillet, pronounced LI-leh because the French don’t believe the t unless it’s followed by another, is an aperitif made from Bordeaux wines and sweet and bitter oranges. As an aperitif, it’s fortified with more sugar and more alcohol to end up around 35 proof. As with anything that I haven’t tried before, I just poured myself an ounce in a tiny snifter to see what’s up. I was pleasantly rewarded. Lillet has a deep honey color and body resembling a wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes—no surprise, since Sauvignon Blanc grapes are grown in the Bordeaux region. Lillet is floral and citrusy on the nose, and tastes a bit like a light honey mead, but with noticeable grape and orange peel notes. It was so delicious that I kept drinking, and offering, it straight.
When I finally sat down to do my exhaustive research (I read the label AND check Wikipedia), I discovered that the recommended way to drink Lillet is over ice with a slice of orange. Hey, go for it. I’m fine treating it like a port or sherry.
Melba was not satisfied with drinking it straight, though, and so asked folks on Twitter for some cocktail recipes that included Lillet. Before I finished the bottle, she managed to get me to make two of them, and we’ll have that article up next.
My exhaustive research (see above) also gave me the answer to my question, “Why do so many people call it Lillet Blanc?” There is a Lillet Rouge made specifically for sale in America. I’ve yet to come across it, and, unless otherwise specified, one can assume Lillet, with no qualifier, refers to the Blanc.
Finally, a little chuckle from the back label, “[Lillet] is perfect for those special times when day turns to evening and evening turns into night!” Days like that are special? Well, hell, why not? Let’s all celebrate when the sun goes down and we all continue to exist! I’ve heard of worse things to toast to.
Addendum: I almost forgot. Another thing that makes Lillet interesting is that it contains cinchona bark, or quinine, which makes it particularly good to mix with gin, but that’s for the next article.